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Posted on 10 May 2024

Roots Community clean-up neglected Blackburn land

A neglected plot of land in the heart of Blackburn is currently being transformed into a blossoming community garden, thanks to the hard work of the Roots Community.

Located on the corner of Canterbury Street and Wainwright Way, in-between the fire station and Home Bargains, the derelict spot had become overgrown and unloved over the years.

Roots Community Team Leader, Rolonde Bradshaw, who heads up the ‘Guerrilla Gardening’ project, said: “Before we started this area was an absolute wasteland. The grass was chest high, there was rubbish everywhere. It was neglected”.

Rolonde continued: “There also used to be a lot of street drinkers in the area. By us being here and doing what we’re doing, it helps us get talking. It’s always nice to be nice and it works – we get great local engagement”.

Things are already taking shape…

Just six weeks into the project, the land has already been brought back under control, transforming the unwanted space into a tidy area with bags of potential. The long grass has been cut down, seeds have been potted and planted and big plans have been thought up of how to make use of the land.

Pete Johnson, a Roots Community member from Blackburn, has been working on the community garden project for the past three weeks.

Following his long journey from addiction to recovery and discovering spirituality, Pete enjoys working hard on the community garden most Wednesdays.

He said: “It’s a great way to get invested in recovery. To give back to the community, to give back to people – it’s something I want to do forever”.

“It’s a nice place to get together, enjoy your surroundings and muck in – you don’t forget where you’re from when you’re doing grass roots”.

Over the coming weeks, the volunteers will be bringing in compost bins, water butts and A-frames to help get things growing.

The teams are also using used tyres, which have been donated from local tyre shops, to create make-shift plant pots. Currently housing strawberries, blackcurrants and herbs, the tyres have really helped the project start rolling.

Working hard to Keep Blackburn Tidy

Tracey Padia from Keep Blackburn Tidy, who are regularly helping with the project, said: “It’s all a great team effort. We’ve been working here for about 6 weeks now. Our plan is to take care of the land and use it to grow things we can eat.”

Tracey continued: “We’ve been working alongside Roots Community on their community clean-ups for a while now. Bit by bit we help each other with stuff.”

Keep Blackburn Tidy started over 6 years ago with a vision to clean-up the local area, rid the town of litter and make the most of neglected spaces. Another member of Keep Blackburn Tidy is Councillor Jackie Floyd, who enjoys volunteering and getting stuck into community clean ups on her days off.

The Labour representative for Billinge and Beardwood, said: “We see the potential, so we make the changes. No matter how tiny of a change you make – it makes a difference”.

“This plot allows people to be outdoors together. We see opportunity in things people see as rubbish. We like working with Roots because they’re like us – they’re people who do the do”.

The Roots Community and Red Rose Recovery are both part of the Spark recovery collaborative. They empower those in, or seeking recovery from substance misuse, connecting like-minded people in recovery through local projects, activities and services that benefit the wider community.

You can find out more about the Roots Community here.

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